from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The state of being poor; lack of the means of providing material needs or comforts.
  • n. Deficiency in amount; scantiness: "the poverty of feeling that reduced her soul” ( Scott Turow).
  • n. Unproductiveness; infertility: the poverty of the soil.
  • n. Renunciation made by a member of a religious order of the right to own property.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The quality or state of being poor or indigent; want or scarcity of means of subsistence; indigence; need.
  • n. Any deficiency of elements or resources that are needed or desired, or that constitute richness; as, poverty of soil; poverty of the blood; poverty of ideas.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The quality or state of being poor or indigent; want or scarcity of means of subsistence; indigence; need.
  • n. Any deficiency of elements or resources that are needed or desired, or that constitute richness

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The state or condition of being poor; need or scarcity of means of subsistence; needy circumstances; indigence; penury.
  • n. The quality of being poor; a lack of necessary or desirable elements, constituents, or qualities.
  • n. Lack of richness of tone; thinness (of sound).
  • n. Dearth; scantiness; small allowance.
  • n. Poor things; objects or productions of little value.
  • n. The poor; poor people collectively. Compare the quality, used for persons of quality.
  • n. Synonyms Poverty, Want, Indigence, Penury, Destitution, Pauperism, Need, neediness, necessitousness, privation, beggary. Poverty is a strong word, stronger than being poor; want is still stronger, indicating that one has not even the necessaries of life: indigence is often stronger than want, implying especially, also, the lack of those things to which one has been used and that befit one's station; penury is poverty that is severe to abjectness; destitution is the state of having absolutely nothing; pauperism is a poverty by which one is thrown upon public charity for support; need is a general word, definite only in suggesting the necessity for immediate relief. None of these words is limited to the lack of property, although that is naturally a prominent fact under each.
  • n. and Meagerness, jejuneness.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the state of having little or no money and few or no material possessions


Middle English poverte, from Old French, from Latin paupertās, from pauper, poor.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English, from Old French poverté (Modern French pauvreté), from Latin paupertās, from pauper ("poor") + -tas ("noun of state suffix"). Cognates include pauper, poor. (Wiktionary)



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  • Oh, but it's entertaining! Please, quote all you want. :-) And Stephen Crane's a great choice, too.

    September 22, 2007

  • Yes... I thoroughly enjoyed it. I love the way the guys harangue and cuss at each other, but it all still sounds so civilised. Anyway, I finished it, so I'll stop inundating all these words with Crane quotations, for a while at least.

    September 22, 2007

  • Npydyuan, let me guess--you're reading The Third Violet on Project Gutenberg! ;-)

    Sounds like fun. I may do the same.

    September 22, 2007

  • "Poverty isn't anything to be ashamed of."

    "Great heavens! Have you the temerity to get off that old nonsensical remark? Poverty is everything to be ashamed of. Did you ever see a person not ashamed of his poverty? Certainly not. Of course, when a man gets very rich he will brag so loudly of the poverty of his youth that one would never suppose that he was once ashamed of it. But he was."

    Stephen Crane, The Third Violet

    September 22, 2007

  • Proper revolutionary "poverty" is not in simply not having useless stuff, but in not even wanting it. "Jeeze", said Fred Everybody, "That's asking a lot!"
    --Jan Cox

    April 6, 2007